Pilot Shoulder Strap Clip

Time: 2 Hours

One thing I have read about is the complaints of how the pilots shoulder straps don’t stay into position on the roll bar behind their seat. The straps are held on with a loop of the strap around the roll bar. Since the roll bar extends outward for a little bit and bends downward the straps have nothing to retain them and can slide outward. This means you have to fidget with them to get them into position. Big deal? No but since I have time on my hands I decided to come up with a solution. In the shop I have these wall units that have a bunch of little drawers in them. They are clear plastic and house all my rivets, screws and so on. I have had them since I started my build. Anyways these set of drawers came with these flat clips on the back that you could use to hang on the wall. These clips were meant to slid into a receptacle that would get screwed to the wall. I held on to these receptacles for some reason. While I was digging thru some parts I found them and a light bulb went off. They were the same width on the inside as the width of the shoulder straps. So I devised a plan to screw these to the underside of the roll bar to hold the straps in place. You may be having a hard time picturing these but in the following photos hopefully they make sense. First I did some test while sitting in the seat as to where I wanted these to align on the roll bar so they were comfortable. Then I marked the location and removed all the parts. I fine tuned the marks on tape that I put around the roll bar to protect the paint. To get the two holes aligned and marked for drilling I attached them to the roll bar with zip ties. In the photo you see the clip zip tied with two small washers taped to the clips. This was to make up the space of the clip so the zip tie didn’t squeeze the clip too much so I could get a good mark on the holes.

Now you have an idea what these clips looked like. On each end is a hole that’s countersunk for a flat head screw. This hole fits a #8 screw perfectly. So I marked the holes through the clips onto the tape after I had them aligned along the roll bar. I removed the zip ties and the clips and drilled and tapped for #8 screws while laying down inside the fuselage. I tell you having a bunch of Harbor Freight moving blankets is key to protect your back from all the protruding parts. With the holes drilled, tapped and cleaned up I put then shoulder straps in place and attached the clips with screws.

Another little project done and making progress. Simple yet effective solution to a problem.

More Fiberglass

Time: 4 Hours

I removed the peel ply from the canopy skirt to reveal nice layups over the horizontal rivet lines. So I repeated the process for the three vertical rows on each side. 

I then removed the ply peel from the gear leg fairings and sanded them down to prep for pin hole filling. 

After that I went on to the wheel pants. As I discussed in my last post I filled the uneven space between the bracket and the pant with epoxy/flox. That was pretty easy with the outboard bracket since it attaches close to the opening and I could get my hands in there. Now the inboard bracket is another story as there isn’t room for me to get my hands in there. I did a little research online and saw another builders idea and figured I would follow suit. The idea is to drill several extra holes around the screw holes in the pants. Then put the pants into position securing them with cleko’s on the put board and wood blocks at the aft end of the pants to keep the inboard holes aligned and not moving. Then with the same mixture of epoxy/flox use a syringe to inject the mixture in the holes and fill the void. 

This worked really well and I will repeat this process with the forward half of the pants. I finished up the day by putting a coat of UV smooth prime on the gear leg fairings. Tomorrow will be a sanding day. 

Fiberglass Items

Time: 6 Hours

After I finished up the last little bit of the windscreen fairing and finished admiring my work I set out to do some fiberglass work. First was to add two layers of fiberglass tape to the rivet lines on the gear leg fairings. I covered the tape with ply peel and will get to sanding these after cure. 

Next up was to check on a task I did last night and that was a flox/epoxy spacer I made to get a good fit between the wheel pant and the bracket that it gets attached to. The idea is that the screws that attach the pants to the brackets will deform the pants if the mating of the bracket/pant isn’t perfect. That would look bad after the pants are painted. So I carefully filled the space between the bracket and pant with epoxy/flox to make them fit perfect. 

I sanded the flox all around and cleaned up the edges. This is gonna work perfect so I did the upper holes of this bracket and the lower holes of the other side. 

Next up was removing the primer on the canopy skirts and add two layers of fiberglass over the rivet holes. I’m doing this as I have found that my filler that I put over the rivets was starting to crack under the flexing during opening and closing the canopy. This took several hours to get accomplished and I still have the vertical rows to do. 

I only saw cracking on the lower few rivets towards the forward edge but I though I better do all of them as that would have been the right thing to do in the first place. This means that once I’m finished with this I will have to fill and smooth these out all over again but that’s the way it goes when you have no idea what you are doing. Luckily this stuff is forgiving and can easily be fixed. In between these tasks I started putting in all the carpet pieces and trimming as needed to fit around the forward stick boot and fuel pump. 

I love days like these as I feel like I was really productive. 

Gear Leg Fairings

Time: 2 Hours

I removed the gear leg fairings and their hinges. I cleaned and deburred all the holes in the hinges. I also countersunk all the holes in the fiberglass for flush rivets. With my squeezer and soft rivets I attached the hinges to the fiberglass. 

The hinge pin gets a 90° bend in the bottom end and cut to one inch so that they can be secured with safety wire through a small hole I will drill in the fiberglass. 

Little progress anytime I can get it gets me one step closer to flying! I will sand the entire surface to prep for a layer of fiberglass  to cover the rivet heads to prevent paint cracking in the future. Then I will square up aft edge where the two sides meet so that they have a nice finish. 

Wheel Pants

Time: 6 Hours

I sanded a few spots on the windshield fairing that I put Super-Fill on yesterday. After that I decided to jump right in with the wheel pants. First up was to square up the edges at the two halves meet up and attempt to get the seem tight. It wasn’t an exact science and I took a little off at a time and got both pretty close. They will need some filling later after the pants get all set into their positions. After I was fairly happy with the fit I measured and marked per the plans to drill the 7 holes for the screws that hold the two halves together. 

Now that the sets were matched up marked I drilled them. 

The outboard side of the pants get a bracket riveted to them that gets bolted to the axel nut.  To get the location of the rivets you start with the bracket bolted to the axel and square to the floor with the fuselage level. 

Before you can put the aft section of the pants in place you need to tape a 1″ spacer to the top of the tires to give the correct spacing between the top of the tire and the inside of the pants. 

The aft portion of the wheel pants needs a notch cut out to allow the gear leg to protrude through. I started with a small notch and worked my way up as needed to get the right fit.  Now the tricky part getting the pants to be aligned with each other, the center line of the fuselage and all the prescribe measurements per the plans. To start I dropped plum bobs at the forward and aft center lines of the fuselage. I then snapped a chalk line on the floor between the two plum bobs. Now I had a reference mark on the floor. I have two laser devices and decided that I would utilize them in this process. First I shot one from the front and one from the back of the tire dead center, using the new tires lip on the center,  at the top of my small wheel chocks. This gave me a uniform point at the front and the back from which to measure a distance from the center line chalk mark. 35 5/8″ at both of them. With that number I slid my laser to the aft end of the fuselage and aligned the beam on the floor and tire to hit the 35 5/8″ mark and the center of the tire. Now the tires are cambered in at the bottom and out at the top a little. My laser came with a leveling pad that has three set screws to get it level. I used it in reverse and used it to match the vertical line with the center of the tire tread from top to bottom. This allowed me to match the wheel pant angle to the tire angle. 

My second laser I used facing the side of the pant to get the aft end height requirement of 8 5/8″ and matched it with a center mark I did on the aft end of the pants. 

The view from aft looking forward shows the angle matched by the laser. 

Now that I had this established I matched drilled from inside out the outboard bracket and clecko’ed it in place and added the forward half of the pant. I had to play around and remove material as it was interfering around the tire and gear leg. 

Once I had a good fit and the aft alignment was matched I removed the parts to establish my inboard drill marks. I used my laser to match the hole with the pants off. 

With that hole aligned I returned all the parts in place and verified the alignments. Once I was happy I used the cross to identify my drill spot. 

I repeated this step for all four inboard holes. This was a time consuming process as I put the parts on marked and return the parts to drill.  

I repeated this entire process on the other gear like with the exact same results. I did a few measurements from the center chalk line to the aft and of the wheel pants to confirm the measurements were identical.

This was a big step today getting the wheel pants in proper orientation and installed! There is still much work to do on these to get them to a perfect condition but just having them on really gives the airplane an awesome look!